Anybody who has finished a basement can tell you one thing: the basement is a different world. Many of the rules that apply to above-grade remodeling do not apply to below-grade environments, chiefly due to the possibility of moisture damage, height restrictions, and lack of familiar stud-based walls to build upon.
That's why it helps to have a system, and the Owens Corning® Basement Finishing System™ is one example that many homeowners choose.
Basement Systems Are Made For Basements
The basement doesn't look like the rest of the house. It doesn't act like, smell like, or feel like the rest of the house, either. Rather than drywall walls, it may have cinderblock walls. Rather than a wood floor on top of joists, it may have a concrete slab. And most importantly, instead of a sealed-up-and-dry environment, it may have a bit of a moisture problem.
Your goal is to turn this alien world of concrete and darkness into something that looks like the upstairs house. It's not just aesthetics, either. Money is involved.
According to Remodeling Magazine's annual Cost vs. Value Report, a basement remodel, upon sale, returns a high percentage of the money invested. So, a basement remodels that costs $61,011 might bring back $44,467, or around 72% when you sell the house.
Because the basement is a different world, you cannot expect to remodel it in the same way as you would an upstairs bedroom or living room. That's where the concept of a basement finishing system comes into play.
The Bottom Line
The core of the system are the insulated wall panels. As you probably know, Owens Corning is a major producer of insulation. So, its basement finishing system leans heavily on wall panels. But because a finished basement isn't complete without a ceiling, they also include a finished ceiling.
Does It Include Floors?
No. Basement flooring is up to you, so be sure to keep that in mind when budgeting the cost of this project.
What Are These Panels Made Of?
They are 1" and 2 1/2" thick glass fiber board, a sturdy type of insulating material (not fluffy fiberglass insulation). This panel is covered with an even harder facing made of acrylic and Teflon.
How Much Insulation Do The Panels Provide?
These are R-11 factor insulation panels. By comparison, fiberglass roll or batt insulation that installs in 2x4 above-grade walls is R-13.
Can You Buy the System and Do It Yourself?
No. Owens Corning requires you to go through its certified, franchised installers.
What Is The Ceiling Like?
It's a suspended or drop ceiling with removable ceiling panels. Armstrong's suspended ceiling of 2'x2' panels is one example.
Is Lighting Included?
How Much Does It Cost?
$50 and $70 per square foot.
This is a number that is fluid due to many factors. For one, you are dealing with commissioned salespeople who have the power to adjust figures. For another, all spaces are different. The complexity of the layout and overall dimensions may affect the per-square-foot price.
Dave Azer, Marketing Leader, Interior Systems, at Owens Corning Engineered Insulation Systems, clarifies for us how a raw "per square foot" estimate isn't always the most accurate, by saying:
The cost per square foot will vary depending on the dimensions of your basement and the custom work that you have done. For example, one large square or rectangle shaped room is less per square foot, but a design with multiple rooms and more interior walls will be more per square foot. Also, some basements have more obstacles like duct work or mechanicals that need to be boxed in to create finished space. And of course, more custom options can add cost.
Azer further suggests that the best way to find a true "per square foot" cost would be to contact a local franchise.
Pros and Cons
- The wall panels are mold and mildew-resistant, a good thing in these moisture-prone environments.
- The wall panels also have a modest R-value (insulating value).
- The wall panels and ceiling can be removed if you need to access the plumbing, electrical, or other services behind them. Since basements tend to have a high concentration of pipes, wires, and the like, this is an important thing.
- "Breathable" walls that allow for air and moisture to flow in and out.
- The PVC molding vertical battens. These are the plastic strips that cover the seams between the wall panels. So, you will not have perfectly smooth and seamless walls with this system.
- The ceiling will be a suspended or drop ceiling, considered by many to be inferior to a ceiling made of drywall.